The Baha'i Faith & Religious Freedom of Conscience


See especially How "Review" acts as Censorship 3/28/2000 Alison Marshall re Bahai World

Alison Marshall - "How the Baha'i administration behaves"

From: "Ron House" <>
Cc: "Alison Marshall" <>
Subject: Re: Review as censorship
Date: Wednesday, April 05, 2000 1:56 AM

Alison Marshall has sent the following message. I notice that Tookey has
since said he'll go to Talisman, so I'll let the them discuss it over
there, and I'll stay out of it. RH.

Dear Tookey, 

Ron has passed on your questions and I will try to respond. I am happy
that my message was posted on TRB. I feel that what has happened is of
importance to the Baha'i world and if people are interested, they will discuss it,
like they do in any civil society. 

I believe in free speech. I believe that it is not against Baha'i law to
criticise the House of Justice in public. I have done so on a few
occasions over the 2-3 years they have been monitoring me. Whenever I have
criticised the House, I have tried to be polite and constructive about it. It
appears that the House has determined that my speech is unacceptable, so they
have expelled me. 

Nevertheless, I believe I have done nothing wrong. I have acted from my
conscience, and I believe that is what Baha'u'llah would have me do.
Justice is seeing with one's own eyes. 

Alison MarshallFrom: "Ron House" <>
Subject: Review as censorship
Date: Tuesday, March 28, 2000 5:34 AM

The attached articles were posted by Alison Marshall to Talisman, and I
post them here with her permission.

Ron House  

Never fear the truth.

--------------------------- Part 1 ------------------------------

In early 1998, I was approached by the editors of the Baha'i Studies
(ABS-ESE) and asked to write a review of two volumes of The Baha'i
World. I
spent the next several months reading the volumes and putting together
review. I approached the exercise in much the same way as I do when my
company is asked to review publications for organisations. The review
without comment the first vetting process, in which the item is read by
group of peer reviewers, and was then sent to the association's
institutional panel for review. Its members had a number of difficulties
with the review. The editors made various changes to the text in order
accommodate the panel's concerns, but the panel was nevertheless unable
come to a decision and so the editors appealed to the UK NSA for a final
decision. The NSA sent the review to the House of Justice, who decided
it would be "inadvisable" to publish the review because of its generally
critical tone. 

I have posted the book review in a second e-mail message. The message I
relieved from the secretary of the ABS ESE states:

As you might have guessed with our long delay in getting back to you, we 
have had many discussions with the UK Bahá'í reviewing panel about your
review. Unfortunately, the piece did not pass institutional review. The
reviewing panel was unable to make a decision. They referred the matter
the UK NSA, who, in turn, sought advice from the Universal House of

In a letter to the National Spiritual Assembly dated 22 August 1999, the 
Department of the Secretariat replied that the publication of your
was considered inadvisable, because of the generally critical tone.

Since then, the executive committee of the Association for Bahá'í 
Studies-ESE has further reflected on the implications of this decision.
committee is aware that Bahá'í scholarship is a developing field and 
striking the right tone and balance when critically reviewing any 
publication is one of its more difficult challenges.


Although the letter says that the issue is a general one of criticising
publication, we need only open any issue of the Baha'i Studies Review to
find book reviews equally as critical about publications not produced by
World Centre. This decision shows just how sensitive the House of
Justice is
to criticism of its own publications. The review is critical, yes, but
it is
constructive, containing practical suggestions as to how the publication
might be improved. In my work, I am *paid* by companies to give them
sort of feedback. 

To me, this decision is a good example of how review acts as censorship.
Baha'i review is used by the Baha'i administration to further its own
agenda. This agenda is focussed on creating and maintaining a particular
public image, which can be gleaned from The Baha'i Worlds themselves.
administration will not tolerate any speech that might blemish that
carefully crafted persona. The Baha's Studies Associations are not
independent of the Baha'i organisation and therefore cannot publish any
material contrary to these purposes. 

As we can see from the above letter, the Baha'i administration assumes
right to define "scholarship" for its members and to set it within very
narrow parameters, placing emphasis on intangibles like tone. This
highlights the fact that those parameters are used to serve the purposes
the administration, but are masked here as objective criteria for


--------------------------- Part 2 ------------------------------

"The Bahá'í World" 1992-93 and 1993-94
Published by the Bahá'í World Centre
Reviewed by Alison Marshall

In her essay on the efforts of the Bahá'í community to realise equality
between the sexes, Ann Boyles tells us that "Bahá'ís see their community
life as a workshop rather than as a perfect model..." (1993-94 p. 273).
After reading these two volumes, I cannot point to anything in them that
would prove this statement true. The books are largely filled with
relations material, and their portrayal of the community is sterile and

Purpose and audience
Beginning with the holy year in 1992, the World Centre has started a
annual, series of The Bahá'í World. In an effort to return to Shoghi
Effendi's original purpose, "to disclose to others something of the
significance of the world-wide movement called into being by the Message
Bahá'u'lláh" (1992-93 p. 7), the World Centre has redesigned the volumes
non-Bahá'í readers (1992-93 p. 8), who are described as serious
and general students (back cover). The stated purpose seems to be
firstly, to be a yearbook that reproduces major statements and provides
statistical data and information on the Faith's activities; and
secondly, to
"offer readers general information on the Bahá'í Faith, its concerns,
its teachings" (1993-94 p. 1).

Content and organisation
The 1993-94 volume has an accessible structure, with the content
into the following categories (in this order):
· "Introduction to the Bahá'í Community", containing chapters on
Bahá'u'lláh, Shoghi Effendi and the community. 
· "Writings and Messages", containing excerpts from the sacred writings
an overview of House of Justice messages.
· "Events 1993-94", containing chapters on events such as international
convention and the conference of Bahá'í counsellors.
· "Essays and Statements", containing essays on topics such as
postmodernism, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, and statements from the Bahá'í
International Community.
· "Information and Resources", containing obituaries, statistics, a
directory, a short list of new publications, a Bahá'í reading list and a

The 1992-93 volume is similar in content type, but is not as well
It appears more as a collection of various pieces of writing - some
for the volume, others not - and lacks an overall framework to bring it
together. Topics are not categorised, and the result is a list of
in no apparent order and with no indication as to the kind of
the reader is to expect. For example, the chapter "Bahá'u'lláh", which
its face could be just about anything, is a reproduction of a statement
the Bahá'í International Community, written for the holy year and not
this volume and its audience. One chapter is titled "The Bahá'í
Today", which is not informative given that this is surely the topic to
covered by the book as a whole. It consists of a five-page piece
focusing on
the expansion of the community and the spread of its teachings. It is
near the end of the book, and is laid out differently from the rest of
text, indicating that it may be a quote from somewhere. But there is no
indication as to its author, purpose and audience.

There is just one significant oversight in the organisation of the
volume. The chapter "Bahá'í Sacred Writings" contains two sections of
quotes, headed "Writings of Bahá'u'lláh" and "Writings of 'Abdul-Baha".
Unfortunately, the quotes have no quote marks and no references. There
sufficient context for non-Bahá'í readers to work out that they are
actual quotes from the writings, but confusion sets in when you read on
the next chapter, which is headed "From the Universal House of Justice".
immediately assume you are getting quotes from the House of Justice.
However, the chapter starts with "The Universal House of Justice was
ordained..." and immediately you ask yourself, is this the House of
talking about itself in the third person? Second page in, you are told
"This section of The Bahá'í World features excerpts from a selection of
major letters" (p. 40), so it begins to dawn on you that the author is
the House of Justice as the title implies. In fact, the chapter is a
piece with an introduction on how the House of Justice communicates with
community and a summary of what the House of Justice wrote for the
year, with indented quotes.

Dealing with two purposes
As stated earlier, the purposes of the volumes are to be a yearbook and
give general information about the Faith. 

A yearbook is an annual publication that updates information on a given
subject. However, in order to fulfil the second purpose of giving
information about the Faith, the publications also contain a great deal
information that has nothing to do with the current year. This
their focus and leaves the reader wondering what is going to come next.
example, both articles about the Mount Carmel projects (1993-94 pp.
begin with pages of background before detailing progress for the year
(1992-93 pp. 169-175). 

The same problem also reveals itself on a micro level, within sections
articles. In the section "Year in Review" (1993-94 p. 128), the Houses
Worship section starts with an explanation of what Houses of Worship
what Bahá'ís do in them and how many there are, before discussing Houses
Worship for the year. And in the middle of an article on social and
development, there is a paragraph that outlines assembly functions and
explains the election process at all levels of the administrative order
(1992-93 p. 234).

I recommend the editors commit themselves to making The Bahá'í World a
yearbook. This would mean putting all the yearbook-related information
- House of Justice statements, events, statistics - and all background
information into appendices - explanations of Bahá'í administration and
teachings, quotes from the writings, and information on matters such as
persecution of the Bahá'ís in Iran. The editors should definitely resist
urge to put the sacred writings first just because Bahá'ís like it that
And they should also resist putting information together just because it
about the same topic. Information should be grouped according to time
subject; so, for example, the article on what's currently happening in
would come in the yearbook section, and then the reader can be referred
the appendices and other publications for further information. 

The 1993-94 volume contains a glossary that explains and gives
background on
some basic Bahá'í terms such as "Universal House of Justice". Using a
glossary stops the information in the main part of the publication from
being cluttered with background detail. Unfortunately, this has not been
heeded by the various authors of the volume, and the reader is given
unnecessarily repeated explanations such as: "Every five years, a
three-stage process culminates in the election by the Bahá'ís of the
of the supreme governing council of their community, the Universal House
Justice" (p. 51); "... immediately following the Seventh International
Bahá'í Convention - the occasion every five years for the election of
Universal House of Justice..." (p. 60); "Members of the Universal House
Justice, the international governing body of the worldwide Bahá'í
community..." (p. 79).

Impressing the audience
The publications assume that a non-Bahá'í audience is not interested in
detail. The World Centre's review of the first series of The Bahá'í
concluded that the series was a "detailed record" that resulted from the
tendency of the writers and editors to provide an "exhaustive treatment"
community activities. These, it argues, were of intense interest to
many of whom were personally involved in the projects, but not to the
general reader (1992-93 pp. 9-10). 

The result for the new series is a run of articles that give
descriptions of events supported by very little detail. In the 1993-94
volume, the section "Year in Review" is 50 pages long and made up of
separate sections each focusing on a specific event, area of service or
topic. With little to relieve the tedium, most follow a formula: a
description of what happened, where it happened and who was there (those
considered important), with a brief description of what was discussed.
take one paragraph at random: "Five Bahá'í singers and musicians were
those who performed for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting
held in
Cyprus in October. Alex Zografov directed the musical opening, Vic Salvo
played the piano, and three members of the Zografov family sang in the
choir. The performance moved many of the forty-eight leaders of
Nations so greatly that some of them commented on it in their speeches"
121). Be honest. Could you cope with that for 50 pages? 

The article on the "Conference of Bahá'í Counsellors" tells us that:
concerning questions about the Faith raised by interested members of the
public and attacks launched by opponents, the role of the Teaching
Centre in
encouraging systematic study of the Faith, the production and
of Bahá'í literature, and the flow of pioneers and travelling teachers
also discussed" (1993-94 p. 66). No more detail is provided; there is no
attempt to describe, much less analyse, what was discussed, and no
to clarify why the House of Justice considered the event "highly
significant". The reader is left to wonder what could be meant by such
phrases as "attacks launched by opponents". 

Besides being uninteresting, I am at a loss to see how this information
of use to a 'serious scholar'. Beyond the general documenting of events
the year, the statistics, the obituaries and basic reference material, I
suggest that the most telling aspect of the publications is what they
say. Where is the heart and soul of the community? I could find almost
nothing that reflected the community's humanity - people with foibles,
people who make mistakes, people who are passionate.

Contrast this with the more than 100 pages devoted to the persecutions
the Bahá'ís in Iran in The Bahá'í World 1979-83. Although some of it
be excluded if the selection was restricted, as suggested, to material
relating to the relevant years, most of what is included is relevant. As
discovered in the review of the old series, the pages reveal a careful
loving attention to detail, with all sorts of useful material:
of those killed, personal accounts of persecution, reproductions of key
documentation, maps, and exhaustive detail in the text. I cannot
why this kind of information "will have a diminished importance in the
of general readers" (1992-93 p. 10). It is precisely this kind of detail
that makes the publication useful and interesting. Although the editors
state that their intention was to retain the positive aspects
of the old series (1992-93 p. 12), I cannot see any evidence of this;
example, the obituaries have been reduced from the short biographies of
earlier series to a few cursory remarks. 

There is one important exception. The article by William Collins, "The
Bahá'í Faith in the Eyes of the World: What the Print Media Report About
Bahá'í Faith" is interesting and informative, being crammed full of
examples and detail. It has been put together by someone who knows the
subject well and is able to analyse it and make intelligent comments
it. He describes the trends in the media's coverage of the Faith,
events that sparked changes, and isolates themes that the media has
taken up
about the community. The article even mentions, albeit briefly, possible
*challenges* for the Bahá'ís with regard to its relationship with the
(1992-93 p. 167). Another article in the same volume that held my
was "The Case of the Bahá'í Minority in Iran", by Douglas Martin. It was
informative, and written in a style that kept the story moving.

Language and style
The volumes are verbose, with an overuse of passive sentences and
phrases, and have an impersonal, dry PR quality:

"Among these are the aspiration that development activities will
to a rehabilitation of human society and will eliminate extremes of
and wealth, a belief that a desire to serve others is ultimately the
outstanding motivation for participation in development activities, and
conviction that high standards of morality can and should be
cultivated by every person." (1992-93 p. 231)

At some difficult points, unsupported generalisations fill the gaps:

"One of the principle [sic] teachings of Bahá'u'lláh is the equality of
sexes, and throughout its brief history, the Bahá'í community has
an extraordinary record in this area." (1993-94 p. 83)

In some sections, the authors are clearly writing for an external
of policy-makers or academics and use language that they think would be
usual in these circles, without themselves mastering or perhaps
understanding it. The results are verbose, giving the appearance of
analysis, without the substance:

"The development activities of the Bahá'í community express a
well-articulated alternative paradigm of development, of interest in its
unusual approaches to the dilemmas of sustainability, of meaningful
design, and equitable North/South interaction." (1992-93 p. 229)

Other sections are written without any apparent thought for an external
audience; preachy, but preaching only to the converted:

"They [the letters of the House of Justice] show how the supreme elected
institution ordained by Bahá'u'lláh in His writings functions,
the Bahá'í community from persecution and division, applying the Bahá'í
teachings for the current situation, guiding the Bahá'í community in its
course of development, and sharing news of both crisis and victory in
Bahá'í world." (1993-94 p. 47)

Essays and statements
As mentioned earlier, the publications contain essays and statements. In
keeping with the purpose of The Bahá'í World as a yearbook, I think that
essays should be included only if they are linked to some event that
during the year and needs extended comment. For example, the essay on
Kitab-i-Aqdas in the 1992-93 issue is justified, given that the release
that book during the year was a big event for the community. On the
hand, the essay on The Kitab-i-Aqdas included in the subsequent issue
nothing to do with the 1993-94 year. Worse, it is 47 pages long and,
with other essays, placed in the middle of the issue, breaking up the
of information for the year.

Apart from this, I see no reason to include essays. The role of The
World is to report what the Bahá'ís are doing in scholarship, not enter
arena of scholarship itself. It is striking how little space is actually
devoted to Bahá'í scholarship: the 1992-93 volume makes no reference to
whatsoever, and the 1993-94 volume devotes just three pages to it.

With regard to statements, if a particularly important statement comes
for the year, there may be reason to include it as an appendix.
Otherwise, I
recommend listing the statements for the year - perhaps with summaries -
providing references or contact details for those wanting copies.

I recommend that the editors of The Bahá'í World focus on producing a
yearbook that describes and analyses in detail the events of the year,
references to sources where readers can obtain further information. All
background information on the Faith and any statements that must be
belong in appendices. 

The editors should revisit the whole issue of content, bearing in mind
the 'human' element of our experience is attractive to readers, who will
looking for glimpses of themselves in the pages - evidence of people on
spiritual journeys, not reports of administrative meetings and events
involving famous people. 

I strongly advise the editors to abandon the impersonal,
language in favour of a personal, straightforward tone and style.From: "Steve Marshall" <>
Subject: Re: Universal Declaration of Human Rights & Marshall Case
Date: Sunday, April 02, 2000 8:11 AM

>I know nothing of the situation regarding Ms Marshall beyond what has been
>reported here (and it would be typical of the Faith if no mention of this
>incident is ever reported in official Baha'i media) but on what has been
>reported here, if it is accurate, Ms Marshall's rights seem to have been

I can vouch for Alison's story. The terse letter from her national
spiritual assembly, informing her of the Universal House of Justice's
charges and decision, came out of the blue. I think the letter was
terse because her national assembly was simply passing on a message.
It seems to have had no other part in the process.

The message talked about "an established pattern of statements by
[her] and behaviour and attitude on [her] part over the past two or
three years". Yet no Baha'i administrative body so much as hinted to
Alison that it had any concerns, right up until the email was

There was no consultation and no warning - just an arbitrary decision
from the House terminating 20 years of membership. I think the lack of
due process was shameful.

This new practice of removal from Baha'i membership is, not
surprisingly, undocumented. There's plenty of information on
deprivation of membership rights, withdrawal from membership and
expulsion for covenant-breaking, but none on removal of Baha'i
membership. When Michael McKenny had his membership removed a few
years ago I asked for documentation on the practice and was told there
wasn't any because it happened very infrequently and each situation
generally turned on its own facts.

ka kite
SteveFrom: "Steve Marshall" <>
Subject: Re: Universal Declaration of Human Rights & Marshall Case
Date: Tuesday, April 04, 2000 6:01 PM

>I'm afraid you now have me rather confused.  We've been led to believe that
>Ms. Marshall's expulshion was without any warning.  Now you tell me that
>there's been communication during the past 15 years.  These seem rather
>incompatible with each other.

The appeals I was speaking of have nothing to do with Alison's
expulsion. Here's a letter I wrote to the National Spiritual Assembly
of the Baha'is of New Zealand. It lists some of those appeals.


At 12:16 PM 28/10/99 +1300, you wrote:
>28 October 1999
>Dear Steve,
>The National Spiritual Assembly asked me to follow up with you the concern 
>you raised in the meeting with ABM Mina Moayyed about the fact that in your 
>experience due process doesn't exist and that your appeals "just 
>disappear". Peter Manins, who was at the meeting, as you know, mentioned 
>that you had raised this concern, and the National Assembly felt that I 
>should enquire from you about the specifics so that it can follow up on 
>anything that you feel is outstanding.
>I would be happy to get more information from you so as to pursue this 
>matter on your behalf. The National Spiritual Assembly is certainly keen to 
>resolve any outstanding matters, and to put your mind at rest about 
>administrative processes in the Faith.
>Looking forward to hearing from you.

Hi Suzanne

Due process

When I've dealt with assemblies, I've seen very little attention paid
to due process. I've generally not been told of the process the
assembly planned to follow. And when there has been a process it often
hasn't been followed. For example, with Baha'i review for Forum
magazine it seemed that the reviewers were only kept on time and
on-task when we contacted national office to say that the reviewers
were missing deadlines or going outside the parameters of their task.
I also felt that we saw no improvement in the process. We said that if
things didn't improve we'd have to close the magazine, and in the end
that's what we did.

Another example concerns sanctions and Baha'i membership. It seems
there is no comprehensive list of offences for which a person could
lose her administrative rights. A few years ago I wrote to the
National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States,
asking that a friend of mine be informed just why his administrative
rights had been removed. The National Spiritual Assembly of the
Baha'is of New Zealand was involved when the National Spiritual
Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States wrote to it about my
appeal. At the time I agreed to stop writing to the National Spiritual
Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States, but appealed to the
National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of New Zealand to take the
matter up with the Universal House of Justice. I've heard no more, and
my friend is still in limbo-land.

Just a few years ago a friend in Canada had his Baha'i membership
removed. I've been a Baha'i for a while now and I'd not heard of the
process. Auxiliary Board member Mina Moayyed and Counsellor Heather
Simpson weren't able to find any documentation on it

>From: "cbcsimpson" <>
>To: "Steve Marshall" <>
>Subject: Re: Removal from Baha'i membership
>Date: Sat, 14 Nov 1998 22:44:5
>. . .
>Removal from Baha'i membership appears to be a different sort of procedure
>and does not appear to be a sanction as we understand the term in New
>Zealand.  I am not familiar with the procedures adopted in Canada and I can
>think of only a small number of situations in this area which bear any
>resemblance to "removal from membership".  Those that I know of involved
>individuals with little or no knowledge of the Faith and its Laws who broke
>the Laws out of ignorance.  Each case was approached separately.  There
>were no defined procedures as the circumstances were quite unusual.  In
>each case the responsible Assembly sought the guidance of the Universal
>House of Justice and after extensive investigation and consultation it was
>accepted that the individuals concerned were never properly enrolled in the
>Faith.   In such a situation the application of administrative sanctions
>would have had little influence on the individuals involved.
>I am not aware of settled rules/guidelines for removal from Baha'i
>membership as the only cases that I know about turned on their own facts.  
>As far as I know the procedure is rarely used.

In ************, I was working as a librarian and was a member of a
professional library association. One of its rules of conduct
concerned the privacy rights of library users. I was also librarian
for the local Assembly. The Assembly asked me to report whether a
community member had borrowed certain books. I refused, on the grounds
that this was outside my professional code of conduct. The local
Assembly then contacted the national Assembly. As I recall, the
national Assembly's letter in reply indicated that a local Assembly
could require anything it wished of its officers. At no point did the
national Assembly consult with me.

Appeals just disappear

1. Some 15 years ago, ********* ***** and I were on the South Island
Children's Camp Committee. We asked the Dunedin Assembly to appoint a
Children's Camp Steering Committee to run a children's camp. to cut a
long story short, a person who wasn't even appointed to the steering
committee took over the children's camp. He justified his coup on the
basis that he'd rung national office, talked to the secretary, (it was
before your time, Suzanne!) and the South Island Children's Camp
Committee had been over-ridden. I was attending the camp, and was
powerless to do anything about the situation, but determined to sort
out the mess after the camp. The South Island Children's Camp
Committee wrote a letter of complaint to the National Assembly, which
was basically ignored. It even confronted the national secretary at a
conference. Again nothing happened.

At that children's camp there were serious safety issues. For example,
children were being transported long distances (up to 100km) on the
back of an open truck, along State Highway one.

2. Since December, I've been asking the ******* Assembly about its
policies concerning advertising in the newsletter, with reference to a
couple of specific circumstances. Despite repeated requests for a
response, I've only been given a copy of the National Assembly's
recent guidelines for newsletters, which really does not address or
answer my questions.

3. A few years ago, a Baha'i effectively stole our car. We'd lent it
to him with strict instructions about where and how it was to be used.
For example, it was to stay within a 150km radius of Dunedin, be used
to organise a ***, and to be under his control at all times. I had to
go to Christchurch to retrieve the car, which had been left with ****
******. It had about $500 worth of damage done to it.

The Baha'i had gone up to ****** and the next thing we knew, he was an
assistant. We wrote to the Auxiliary Board member, ***** ****,
detailing the behaviour of his new assistant, including his threats of
physical violence to friends who objected to having their phone used
for toll calls, and were told that we and others were backbiting and
we must trust people like this assistant more. We wrote back and have
heard nothing more.

4. A few years ago, I wrote criticising an article on the Internet in
the National Newsletter, and offering to write a balancing article. I
was thanked and told that space in the newsletter was pretty tight,
but I'd be considered in the future. Again, effectively, my appeal
just disappeared.

5. Alison has put a lot of work into various statements and discussion
papers. And they just seem to disappear - the race unity statement and
the discussion paper on women.


I bring these examples up because you ask for specifics, but I'm not
expecting resolution. I realise that, in most cases, it's too late for
that now. I prefer to wait for change and improvement, but honestly, I
don't see any sign of it. The international treatment of Baha'i
academics that I've witnessed over the last 5 years has been just
appalling. Don't get me started. :-)

Do you know, I now plan my life so as to avoid entanglement with
Baha'i administration as much as possible, and I've never been happier
or more productive.

ka kite,
From: "Steve Marshall" <>
Subject: Re: Universal Declaration of Human Rights & Marshall Case
Date: Thursday, April 13, 2000 5:35 AM

>I've asked this question before, and no one has answered it: precisely what
>was the Universal House of Justice to learn from asking Ms. Marshall that
>the members didn't already know?

Hi again, Rick

What I get from your question is an attitude that the House pretty
much knows everything, so it doesn't really need to make any enquiries
or check facts. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Here are some things the House could have learned/avoided by making
some enquiries:

The House, by its own admission, expelled Alison for a 2-3 year
pattern of behaviour and attitude. If it had pointed out its concerns
to her over that period, she would have had an opportunity to
reconsider her actions. She had no inkling that her behaviour and
attitude was of concern to the institutions.

If the House had presented Alison with concrete examples of the sorts
of behaviour and attitude that were of concern, then she could have
told it whether its examples were indeed from her, or from someone
pretending to be her. This isn't as silly as it sounds. Alison lives
her Baha'i life on the Internet, where one's identity is attached to
emails and the like, and is easily forged.

The House could also have listened to the hierarchies of the "rulers"
and the "learned" to pick up on whether there was any sort of a
problem in Dunedin, New Zealand, that required it to act. The
institutions of the "rulers" and the "learned" in New Zealand gave
Alison no hints that they considered her, or anyone else for that
matter, to be a problem. Alison got personal assurances to the
contrary, and both the Dunedin Assembly and its Auxiliary Board member
for Protection separately assured the Dunedin community in 1999 that
they were not aware of any problem in New Zealand related to the 7
April letter.

If, as I suspect, the House's concerns about "attitude and behaviour"
relate to Alison's postings on Talisman, then Alison could have
cleared the matter up quite simply by informing the House that it was
acting outside its jurisdiction by interfering in matters of
conscience and theology. Then it could perhaps have gone back to
legitimate concerns such as concentrating on legislation, and
promoting world peace.

ka kite
SteveFrom: "Steve Marshall" <>
Subject: Re: Infallibility: The Larger Issue
Date: Wednesday, May 31, 2000 4:03 AM

>>Though the brochures and adverts would claim the contrary,
>>independent investigation of truth is not an option for the followers of

>And I disagree strongly with your statement about independent
>investigation not being an option.

It's certainly not been an option for Alison Marshall. The Universal
House of Justice (UHJ), the international governing body of the Haifan
Baha'is, has decided that she doesn't believe the right things and
won't accept that she has a right to discuss those things on a
members-only Internet discussion group, Talisman. (Well, that seems to
be the situation - the ruling against her and the letters sent by the
UHJ to those who protested are vague about the charges)

The result is that the UHJ has removed her from membership in the
Baha'i community. That clearly says to me that freedom of conscience
and freedom of speech is so circumscribed in the Baha'i Faith that
independent investigation of the truth takes a real back seat to blind
faith when one becomes a card-carrying Baha'i.

That's no problem for people who think they've found the truth when
they become Baha'is, and it's no problem for people who accept a
monolithic religion. But you can pretty much forget more than token,
tolerated, diversity. And for that reason the Baha'i Faith will remain
obscure and of minority interest unless it revisions itself.

ka kite